Goodbye To All That By Robert Graves
Finished on 2/1/2017
2 Major World War I Battles and 3 British Warrior Poets out of 5
This is Robert Grave’s autobiography. He was born at the turn of the (last) century and served in the British Military for the majority of the war. He started as a subaltern (a second lieutenant) of the military, but after his superior officers were pruned by German weaponry he was promoted up to Captain.
This is an officer’s story of about how he kept his regiment together in the face of massive death caused by WWI. This is a half-Irish half-German soldier’s story about how he was repeatedly suspected of being a German spy during WWI, and how he proved himself loyal time and time again. This is the story of a man struggling with severe PTSD with only the barest understanding of what PTSD even is. This is the story of a man who goes on with life despite his marriage falling to pieces.
Graves made it very, very clear that he survived the war purely by luck, whereas so many of his generation didn’t. He made the Battle of the Somme sound exceptionally vivid, same with the Battle of Loos. Graves was injured at the Somme, shrapnel puncturing his lung and passing through the other side. He should have died, but didn’t. After recovering he returned to France to serve again, but rapidly got pneumonia in his damaged lungs, another potentially lethal injury. Finally after the war he got the Spanish Flu and nearly died again.
Not afraid to discuss the politics of socialism and communism, suicide, or homosexuality, this is a very daring book for the fact that it came out in 1929. If you’re in the mood for some intense reading, give it ago.